Martha chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:
Grandmother Clay, Our Teacher
Memories are as long as generations. And those memories are lessons to be passed on to our children.
Through Grandmother Clay we can teach our children, since she is the ultimate teacher of many lessons!
I have a memory of when I was quite small, probably five or six years old. I was sitting in a small travel trailer, at a little table with my mother, while my father worked diligently on our garden. My mother taught me about clay with no words, really; she just led. I remember I felt accepted and that I pleased her, and that she and I were connected. I, her daughter; she, my mother. Important lesson: Grandmother Clay bonds us all!
When I saw this jar—specifically, the beauty and intricacies of the base—it was apparent to me, as a potter, that many lessons came into play as the potter was building the piece. Of those, two lessons played key roles: positive thoughts and calmness. Frustrations, I quickly learned, do not help the clay-builder. Breathing is an important place to start. There are no guarantees that any piece I build will make it through the drying and firing processes. The clay could crack or pop. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is acceptance. I know that I can always try again and, in doing so, I move forward.
In this piece, size does matter! The wall of the small pot comprises around sixty coil rings. The intricacies of the coils required precision, as well as a tender touch. The building required each coil to be rolled and flattened evenly to about 3/4 in. (2 cm) wide, and then each coil was connected to the next. In order to maintain the exposed coils while building the pot and smoothing the inside, the potter had to hold this piece very gently and calmly.
Grandmother Clay teaches us life lessons of patience, acceptance, love, connection, sharing, using, belonging, breathing, creating, and feeling! The list goes on and on.
My journey in clay has led me to many places, including to a place that connects to who I am spiritually as a Native person and to my mother and my community. Ultimately, my journey has led me to become the teacher I need to be in order to lead our children in our traditional pottery-making ways. With my teaching, I encourage the recognition of these lessons because they play a key part in our everyday lives. Being in touch with our positive feelings and emotions can only help us in our life’s journey!